Lydia – Devil
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: March 19, 2013
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I heard Lydia were switching producers to Colby Wedgeworth, breaking off their longtime relationship with Matt Malpass. When learning the band was aiming for a spring release for a record called Devil, I felt a little more cautious yet. This is Lydia we are talking about, a band synonymous with winter days and rainy nights.
All previous apprehension aside, Devil really is just the next step for Lydia from where they headed with Paint It Golden. Sure, the Illuminate days are long gone, but what do you really expect? Despite its namesake, Devil is breezy and airy, perfect for these spring days and upcoming summer nights. And yes, it’s a happy, colorful record, not a devastating heartbreak put to music like Illuminate. Times are different now. The past has passed and the band has moved on – so we should too, yeah?
Whereas Paint It Golden opened in an icy hospital with “Hailey,” Devil starts off as the sun comes up and spring begins with “The Exit.” It’s calming and endearing, laced with inviting guitar tones and a groovy synth. Even Leighton Antelman’s vocals are sunny and when mixed with the synth, this track just invites you to open the windows and let the sun in. After the dreamy “oh-oh-ohs,” when the effects are tapering, Antelman sings, “I don’t hang this cross for him / I hang it for my mother’s grin / If I wasn’t so far away / I’d ask my pops if he’s free today / But everyone here looks like they’re on their own / I like your style / Let’s just have some fun.” So naturally, let’s just have some fun.
The happy days keep rolling in with “Runaway” and “Back to Bed,” as the languidly memorizing guitars make me certain this record is going to sound good as the nights get warmer. The latter is just damn gorgeous as Antelman sings, “But you gotta tell me / What's it gonna be, Hailey / And she looked right at me / And said, ‘My God, I love how you say that.'” How’s that for a twist in the Hailey story? Happy-go-lucky guitars and equally endearing vocals continue throughout the track, and every time the chorus comes up, it pretty much forces an endearing smile.
Single “Knee Deep” has a familiar dark undertow to it initially, but the synth-laden guitar leads to another cheery number, while title track “Devil” makes a mission for the devil seem like a happy, exciting one due to the sunny piano keys and Craig Taylor’s impressive drumming. The drums, although rather simple to keep the pacing, make the track sound immense, so all applause to Taylor and Wedgeworth.
And at the top of the list of stand out tracks has to be “Take Your Time,” better known as the song from the album’s trailer. Simply put, this is the best example of Lydia’s ability as songwriters. The song starts off with unfamiliar and unexpected grit – who the hell expected that guitar distortion to kick off the track or for it to quickly transition to another gorgeous sunny anthem. The gritty guitar continues to weave in and out throughout Antelman’s vocals, making the track as diverse as it gets here. The jam would have made a hell of an opener, but I suppose the intro doesn’t really fit the feel of the record, so it makes sense why it isn’t. Either way, it’s without a doubt the most memorable track on the record
On my first listen, I didn’t really get this record. It just wasn’t what I was used to or expected from Lydia. It was sun-soaked, not drenched in rain and snow – something we’ve never really heard from the band. But after a fair number of spins, I get it. Things change and times get better…closure comes: “Now I’m never sure if I’m coming or going / But I don’t look for her, I can’t look for her / Guess I love not knowing.” Whatever happens happens, right? So, despite the title, from the breezy “The Exit” through the dazzling “From A Tire Swing,” Devil is without question the most uplifting, blissful record Lydia have written to date, and I have a feeling it will continue to hit home throughout the spring and well into summer.
It really does get better with every listen. You can argue that it rarely hits the heights of Illuminate or This December, but in my eyes that band is dead and gone. This is a whole different Lydia and they've shown that they can churn out some wonderful songs.
I think this will end up being one my biggest surprises of the year. While I've loved this band since Illuminate, I've lowered my expectations from them over time (even though I personally loved Paint it Golden). This album was an awesome surprise...totally different direction than I anticipated, and there's not a bad song anywhere to be found. It's definitely a "just press play and listen" album (no filler at all).
That's my favorite song on the album and when I read that part I thought I missed something lol. Great review tho! I agree, it wasn't what I was initially expecting, but in no way is it a disappointment.